KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Yes, FC Dallas could have used the goal they should have been awarded, but weren't. They also let plenty of their own chances go begging, though, despite near-complete control of the first half-hour of Sunday's match against Sporting Kansas City.
“The most frustrating part, I don’t want to talk about,” manager Oscar Pareja said in his postmatch news conference after a 2-0 loss snapped his team's unbeaten run at five matches.
“I can’t talk a lot about this, because I can’t control that. When you are in front of the goal, you have to be able to put the game away. Especially when you are away and you created the options. It takes hard work. I think the boys did a good job at that part and put themselves in a good spot. It obviously frustrates us not to be able to score.”
The part Pareja didn't want to talk about came early in the match.
Dallas should have gone up 1-0 in the 16th minute, when a bad back pass from Sporting defender Lawrence Olum rolled over the goal line before being cleared by 'keeper Tim Melia. Referee Jorge Gonzalez allowed play to continue, however, and Melia was able to save Michael Barrios' followup shot.
Melia didn't control the ball, though, and it came to Barrios again. He buried it in the net, only to be flagged for offside.
Misfortune struck again at the half-hour, with Matt Hedges putting a header off the crossbar in the 29th minute. Fabian Castillo drilled a shot off the right post – and into Melia's arms on the rebound – a minute later.
A quick burst of scoring late in the first half – Olum's 43rd-minute header off Benny Feilhaber's free kick, and Feilhaber's penalty-kick conversion in injury time – and that was that, despite Dallas' 13-7 advantage in shots on the day (including a 10-1 edge in the second half).
“We’re obviously disappointed in the result and I thought we could have put the game away early,” midfielder Kellyn Acosta told reporters. “We’re going to learn from the game, move forward and try to bounce back this upcoming weekend.”
Despite the result, and his frustration over the missed own-goal call, Pareja was proud of the way his team regrouped in the second half and tried to break down Sporting's defense on a sweltering Midwest afternoon.
“You can’t imagine how much it takes to get the frustration out of the players in that moment,” he said. “You have to make them think those are the parts that they can’t control. They need to continue and keep working. I thought they responded well. They stayed on in the second half by trying to find the options, but we found it more difficult. We found that Kansas City just put more people behind the ball and we couldn’t find any gaps or windows. But we did put ourselves in a couple of options where we could have tied the game.
“We do have a lot of potential and did control the game a lot of the time. And once again, it did not bounce on our side, but we are going to continue. I am very proud of our performance. We came here against a very good team, in extreme weather, and performed very well.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.